Friday, June 09, 2006

Bye, Bye Appendix

I am home now,after spending the last two and a half days in various parts of Saint Patrick Hospital & Health Center here in Missoula. And with the help of a little Percocet (actually the generic equivalent as directed by my health plan), I am sitting at my dining room table while I wait for my pudding to set (liquid diet you know). Oh, the pudding is accompanied by prune juice and a stool softener (sounds fun, eh???). Earlier this afternoon Melanie and Jack Puckett stopped by to cheer me up with a Smith river scrap book and two great magazines.

The story goes like this...about a week ago I started feeling 'funny' in my gut but thought it was either something I ate or some kind of virus. The funny feeling slowly shifted to an uncomfortable feeling and by Monday night I left Ultimate Frisbee practice early 'cause I just didn't feel right. I was pretty crabby at work on Tuesday and couldn't sleep Tuesday night. On Wednesday I asked a nurse in the early AM what might be causing pain down in my gut and she immediately thought my appendix was on the fritz. This theory was soon confirmed by Rick and Karl who noticed "rebound pain" when they tapped my left side and I felt it in my lower right off to the hospital I went(across the street) for a stat CT scan. An hour and half later I found myself laying on my back holding an enema in my boo-twa while a GE litespeed scanner said "breathe deep and hold" over and over. Holding the enema in was even harder due to the large cups of contrast liquid I consumed in the 30 minutes prior to the test. Afterwards I travesty back and forth between the bathroom and the waiting room waiting for the radiologist to read the scan...sure enough, I had appendicitis and was told I was heading over to day surgery straight away.

That was on Wednesday around 1:00 PM. I spent the next 4 hours working my way through the system, signing the requisite forms and meeting my surgeon, the anesthesiologist and the post-op care team. It was almost 'fun' since I know so many of the people who worked on me. Around 5:00 pm they popped a little Versed into the IV and the next thing I knew I was in a very nice single hospital room with a picture window view of the Bitterroot mountains and a whole team of nurses and techs at my service. I had compression hose on my legs and stockings underneath, designed to make sure no blood clots could occur. There was a cool self-administered pain pump which allowed me to pump some pretty strong narcotics into my veins every 10 minutes. I think I complied with the instructions and believe I watched quite a bit of TV but truth be told, I really don't remember much. I do know I had tons of visitors, which was quite thoughtful and I hope I seemed to appreciate their presence.

Wednesday night and Thursday morning are a bit of a blur but I do recall the surgeon drawing a picture for me showing where my appendix, cecum, colon and small intestine all intersected and then explaining how he came across a "mass" during the laparoscopic procedure to remove the little earth worm like appendix. The doctor was concerned enough with the inflammation and firmness that he removed a good portion of the cecum, had it sliced and frozen and sent off for analysis. Although this can sometimes be associated with colon cancer, he ruled it out (at least that is what I thought he said and he did confirm that for me today before discharge). Because he took out more than expected and because my body reacted in a way by essentially shutting off the poop machine, they decided to keep me an extra day.

The cecum test results haven't come back yet so I'm not exactly sure what all that pooper has been percolating, which they tell me is a good sign that things will soon get back to normal. I have three incisions, one right above my tallywhacker (which is a bit bothersome as it sits at my waistline), one at my belly button and one sort of up and under my ribs...they all hurt quite a bit, but other than that and being tired and cranky as an old curmudgeon I seem to come out of this latest johhnyocasm all right.

Thanks to everyone for your thoughts and prayers. I hope to be heading to Indy next Friday for a quick three day visit with my Paul Harvey says, soon you'll hear the rest of the story.
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